I never knew, better putting this into right words I have never imagined how a casual twitter conversation can land me my first personal assignment to review the sumptuous winter sea food collection by Chef Veena Arora at The Spice Route restaurant, The Imperial in New Delhi. Firstly I should thank them a lot for inviting me to be a part of the Chef’s Table.
The Spice Route located at the heart of The Imperial, New Delhi is the top drawer of the restaurant world. It took 7 years to complete the entire setup and decoration of the restaurant by the exquisite mural painters from Kerala, brought on request. The restaurant is the complete poetry in itself. The walls have the detailed and delicate illustrations of Hindu beliefs like Karma, Dharma and Moksha. It has in its design the blend of both Keralian and Thai culture which is richly spotted right from the entrance. Wooden pillars brought from the chosen forests of Kerala, Myanmar and Thailand redefines its beauty. The belief that “You come to the world alone and you leave alone” is hugely implemented in The Spice Route, as it enables only one person to enter and exit the restaurant at a time. Another belief that “There is no existence of a third person in any relationship” can be spotted in the couples’ chamber. Particularly in that chamber the wooden pillars are so strategically placed that couples cannot rearrange their seats for a third person to join them. Hence making it a completely explicit system of dining. The people from Kerala have the culture of having lunch or dinner at the center courtyard of the house and the Thai people has the similar form of dining but the courtyard is at the backside of the house. So does The Spice Route where family dining spaces are available at the centrally placed round tables at the courtyard or at the backside of the restaurant alongside the narrow pool. It hence encompasses both the cultures and traditions in a unique ethnic style.
In the beginning I was a bit hesitated on how to pitch my questions to the Chef. But the moment she started speaking, she only made me more comfortable. One word that can precisely describe Chef Veena Arora, as also said by Ruchi Jain, Asst. Public Relations Manager @TheImperial, is “motherly”. She is one of the most humble human being I have come across till date. Not only was she discussing the food recipes which were served but also suggested me and other invitees as how to have that food item so that it tastes better. We were deeply moved by her behavior. Speaking in a generic manner her nature and her personality redefined what success is like. She is successful in her field, a Thai chef of Indian origin and heading the Thai cuisine in The Imperial, but a very down to earth person. This is how successful human beings be like. She set a stunning example right in front of my eyes.
Well when it comes to the food being served, there can be only two words which can describe it in the best possible manner, appetizing and savory. Truly Chef Veena Arora has some magic in her hands. As the food items were served the magician was peacefully seated and was observing our reactions and delight. Indeed a very pleasing and wonderful moment.
Being a person hailing from Bengal, India I always have a special affinity for fish and it was various varities of fish preparations and prawn dishes which were served. Mainly Yerra Melagu (Prawn stir fried with Kerala spices), Phanaeng Pla (Crispy fillet of sole served with phananeng sauce), Nilgiri Year (Prawns served in Kerala Green curry), Thord Munn La (Thai fish cake served with sweet chilli dip and cucumber) and Mee Heng (Vermicelli rice noodles stir-fried with prawns and Thai Sri-racha sauce) I found highly delectable and irresistible The fish like somehow just melted in my mouth and specially the one which was wrapped in banana leaf had that special aroma with it. Moreover the choice of various sauces made the offerings more enjoyable. I specially found myself drowned in various spicy foods during those hours but hey, fear not, these are those food items which has high nutritional value and boosts your health. That’s the speciality of Chef Veena’s winter collection. The spices just test every taste bud in your mouth. The main course had the essence of Keralian, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese and of course a Thai touch. That is exactly what I felt. Coming to the desserts the ice cream being served had the choice for cinnamon, green tea and corn-n-vanilla flavours. Although I had three, but the cinnamon flavoured thing is the unique one I had till time. Smacking my lips now even I can feel its taste. A wonder full piece of imagination and creation. What more can I say to the illustrious and sumptuous meal I had. Putting the total experience into words is proving real difficult for me. The Spice Route, heralded by Conde Nast Traveller as one of the top 10 restaurants of the world is totally a gem.
Lastly, this experience should not have happened unless they invited me for the gala review which indeed is a rich experience for me. I owe my heart full of thanks for The Imperial for remembering me and inviting me.